Tag Archives: Swamystery

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

17 Nov

Swamusings ~ On A Different Note!

Most music aficionados stick to known types of music. Their daily commute, long drives out of town and private listening hours (if any) pretty much overflow with the same kind of music, if not the same performers too.

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Some are open to listening to different kinds of music. They explore and discover the odd gems, but still predominantly listen to the familiar ones.
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Few actually explore various genres of music and expand their sound scape, continuously…

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As a typical born-and-brought-up Madrasi (all South Indian people – from 4 vastly different states and a UT – are madrasis to the rest of India 🤣, all of which the madrasis simply refer to as North India, irrespective of whether it’s located in the east, north or west 🙄), Swamy’s terra firma in music is carnatic, naturally – both vocal & instrumental. But because of his slightly pronounced inclination towards instrumental music (thanks to legends such as Kunnakkudi, Kadri, Umayalpuram, etc.) 🎺🎻, simply due to his lack of multilingual skills (to comprehend the meaning of hymns, songs, bhajans) he also warmed up easily to western (yep, the videshi west) instrumental music as well (Kenny G, Yanni, Miles Davis, Joshua Bell, the Orchestras, Lindsey Sterling, etc.). 🎼🎹🎧
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Surprisingly, despite choosing to remain in his motherland after spending only a few years outside (unlike many of his pals who chose to settle down on the supposedly ‘developed’ side of the world 🤦‍♀️), his exposure to Hindustani music remained limited to the occasional sitar, santoor or flute album, mostly accompanied by Zakhir Hussein on the Tabla 😂. And then there’s Hariharan’s ghazals, of course (Hariharan is not only well known in the southern movie industry, but he himself happens to be a Madrasi, just like Shankar Mahadevan).

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All that changed, with his exploration – albeit a cautious one – into the hi-res audio space. While looking for hi-res / lossless audio to test his audio gadgets, Swamy ended up discovering quite a lot of musicians, from both sides of the world.

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Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

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Here are a few (ex)samples…
Swamy has never heard about Lorde, until listening to and getting instantly enchanted by her voice, on a song included in an audiophile music playlist, on YouTube (of all places)! She’s like Adele, yet different.
Madrasana was familiar territory but with a twist – a performer on his/her own, sans accompaniments, in a well organised setup. And this channel creator / patron is a former hotshot executive in the IT services industry, where Swamy too spent his entire career span.
And then there’s Darbar, which is the perfect gateway for someone like Swamy to explore the vast (and obviously enchanting) Hindustani music terrain. Filled with fantastic single tracks by a plethora of astoundingly talented performers (many of whom Swamy hasn’t even heard of until now), it’s a channel worth a watch, ummm… Listen (both, actually)!

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

22 Oct

Swamusings ~ Treading (with caution) into audiophile territory!

One of (many, needless to say.. heh.. heh.. 😂) Swamy’s interests is music, of pretty much all kinds. Classical music (of the Bharat kind) & instrumental music (of the global kind) have always been a big draw, though an occasional new ARR movie composition or vocals such as Adele too are listened to with equal joy.🎧

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Despite all that, Swamy hasn’t ventured into audiophile territory for a long time, even when he was earning a reasonable amount of pay, primarily due to the cost (of listening equipment) and secondarily due to lack of awareness. Lately though, some (sizable, considering the limited financial inflow of an early retiree, but certainly not outrageous 👀) investment went into personal hi-res audio equipment.

Swamy’s entry-level audiophile equipment – all sourced through Amazon India, mostly during the innumerable number of sale events they keep hosting – consists of hi-res certified 1More Triple Driver earphones, the மூர்த்தி சிறிது கீர்த்தி பெரிது kind of KZ ES4 earphones, the uber popular AudioTechnica M50x headphones and a hi-res audio music player + DAC – the FiiO M3K. And of course, there’s the punching-way-above-its-size Signature Acoustics Phoenix Hi-res Bluetooth audio transmitter/receiver (yep, I’m fully aware of the jargon dropping here 🤷🏻‍♀🤪). Oh yeah, couple of Bose speakers are in the mix as well, though one of them is constantly on strike (one of those rare CD players) a la public sector bank employees and the other one suffers from the typical portable speaker limitations (how about one from Marshall sir – umm, frankly, the endless Amazon sales keep tempting me for a while)!

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Equipment aside, the sad fact about hi-res audio is its availability & affordability, especially in MeraBharatMahan! 😳🤐 Tidal is a well-known streaming source but both availability & cost will be like those forbidden fruit company iThings. Also it may not have much of desi music selections. Locally available services such as Amazon Prime Music, Jio Saavn, Ghaana, et al don’t overtly specify the quality of audio, so one can never be sure.

The other choice is to be ultra patient and rip all the original audio CDs (remember those – like any true-blue music lover, Swamy too has plenty of originals!) at higher bit rates and create one’s own collection, which will obviously take a lot of time, considering the tremendous amount of manual intervention required and the not-so-fast speed of the USB connection to the external CD drive (many of the new laptops have entirely eliminated internal CD drives, a la the fast vanishing 3.5mm audio jack on modern smartphones). Let’s take a breather here… 😵

 

HiRes Equipment2

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So, Swamy was obviously delighted, when he came across a notable hi-res collection of well known (‘heard’ would be more apt) musicians such as AR Rehman, Ilayaraja & such, while looking for hi-res audio files to test the new USB DAC, the FiiO K3, connected to the Obage OE-2425 stereo speakers & of course the head/earphones, on… wait for it… YouTube! 😌🎼🎧

Here’s the channel that does something audio enthusiasts on this side of the world only dream about – a sizable hi-res collection of popular Indian music (no carnatic music yet… ah, man 🙄😖). There may be others, but this is a good place to begin the hi-res journey. Try it – preferably with a good quality head/earphone or pair of speakers & you’ll know what is being elucidated here.😌🤙

The Mastering Project – Hi-Res Indian Music

HiRes Audio Channel YouTubeC

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Oh btw, Swamy is practically an illiterate, when it comes to the nuances of music (despite much of the Dhinam Oru Padhigam hymns being musical, by flow).🙏But when has that ever stopped an enthusiast from exploration anyway! 🎧😌🤘

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Swamy listening on 1More Triple Driver earphones

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

உயிர்மெய் (தமிழ் பதிவுகள்) | SwamyQuote | Swamystery | QuorAnswers by Swamy | Quoraவிடை by ஸ்வாமி | BeenThere, SeenThat  

NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Swamusings ~ Pensioner Swamy!

6 Sep

Swamusings ~ Pensioner Swamy! 🤔👴🏻🙃

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Nearly five years (well, it’s a month shy of 4.5 years, to be precise) after his planned retirement👣, Swamy is now officially a pensioner, joining the league of his father, f-i-l & their ilk 👴🏻👵🏼, many of whom are still very much around, most certainly drawing a much better monthly pension (அரசாங்கம் வாழ்க). 🤣

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On this normal occasion (what, you were expecting some hyped up adjective like ‘momentous’ there, eh! 🙄), Swamy would like to express his sincere gratitude to his long term financial consultant Mr.E.Lakshminarayanan, for enabling the planned retirement to actually happen, and continuing to ensure Swamy stays retired, as desired. 💐🙏
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Needless to say, gratitude is also owed to Swamily 👪, who took his (earlier than) planned retirement, at a tender age of 45, in their stride, and for letting him do whatever he does 📚✍😌 (ahem, that would be ‘Read-Write-Meditate in mugglespeak), even though they aren’t quite sure as to what he does 🤷🏻‍♀, or if he does anything at all! 🤔😂🤘

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Anyway, here’s a piece of practical advise, for those of you who still nurture the dream of retirement, sometime in this lifetime…
☝If you don’t have a financial adviser/consultant yet, find one right away. Alternatively, you may simply call / text / WhatsApp Lakshminarayanan @ +918754468343 (don’t worry, he doesn’t pay any commission to me, at all).
✌️If you don’t have any of these among your existing financial products, viz. term insurance, health insurance and pension plan, start all three right away. Of course, all of them will fetch you some income tax deduction as well.
🖖 If you have not ventured into the markets yet (no sir/ma’ am, not the vegetable/fruit market that you frequent, but the equity market 🤦‍♀️), you shall forever remain unsure of your peaceful retirement. So get started right away with investment in mutual funds (the safer way for those who aren’t confident enough to directly invest in stocks), ideally through the SIP (systematic investment plan) route.
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You may have a well-paying job today and probably aren’t bothered much about your (and your family’s) future, which is the case with many professionals – including Swamy’s former colleagues. But there simply is no guarantee about a safer future, considering how outdated one can become so quickly, in terms of knowledge and skills, and how loyalty is a big sad joke, when it comes to organisations reciprocating that towards their employees. It’s imperative that you actively plan today, for a secure tomorrow, irrespective of however great yesterday was.

Just so you know, Swamy did all of the aforementioned investments (and then some), only during the later stages of his corporate career, starting from 2003/04, shortly after his decisive return from overseas. During the earlier stages of his budding career in the booming (at that time) IT services industry, he was routinely chided by his well-wisher boss (who eventually became his – only – mentor) about not investing a portion of his earnings, keeping the future in mind. Heeding to such sound advise then would have probably helped Swamy become financially safer much earlier in this lifetime, but one (hopefully) learns from experience and does necessary course corrections. As a matter of fact, a few SIPs are still continuing, long after Swamy has actually retired from his reasonably successful corporate career.

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Swamy isn’t rich by any stretch of imagination, and that was never his objective any way. But he is a content being, who isn’t unduly worried about the market fluctuations derailing his planned retirement, which is secure and stable, until this point in time. Of course, it helps that the indulgences of Swamily are very few and far between, which results in negligible discretionary expenses. But that doesn’t mean they live like misers. 4K TV, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and YouTube videos streaming via ACT Broadband, Airtel and Jio mobile subscriptions, occasional sweets & savouries from the likes of ‘The Grand Sweets & Snacks,’ automobiles with 2 and 4 wheels (with associated running & maintenance costs), a pet daughter (who is pushing 80s), donations to charity, frequent travel for Jr’s sports pursuit, feeding strays and birds, regular celebrations of festivals, seasonal online sale binges (mostly the gadget kind), unexpected (but rare, thankfully) medical expenses… all these and more are very much there at SwamyHome as well!

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A content way of living, with occasional indulgences but almost no impulsive expenses, simply helps stretch the safety net of one’s financial kitty, without having to start censoring the basic necessities for a decent urban standard of living. And that’s exactly what Swamily has been doing, from well before Swamy’s retirement. It certainly helps that all of us – the human beings in the family, that is – also happen to be meditators, following the guidance of our Guru, though only Swamy remains the serious seeker treading the spiritual path.

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Early or Planned Retirement is no black magic. It’s a possibility for anyone stuck in the survival plane of existence, provided there’s a focused financial plan, which gets implemented diligently, over a period of time, preferably with the guidance of a professional.

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If you aren’t even planning to retire at some point in time, in this lifetime, then when will you start doing what needs to be done to realise the real purpose of your life, as a human being… So, please Stop dreaming & just Start doing… Now!

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Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy
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Swamusings #1 ~ Ah, that fresh morning cuppa!

30 Jun

Swamusings ~ the new blog series by Swamy that’s a breeze to read, reminisce, reflect & relate/respond to…

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Swamusings #1 ~ Ah, that fresh morning cuppa!

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Was wondering for a while when this was going to happen… 🤔
And it finally did, today!👍

Ah, at last, an App for a very unique Indian need – that fresh morning cuppa…
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Living in MeraBharatMahan is an entirely different ball game compared to the western way of living, which most entrepreneurial ventures and their apps cater to. Implementing them as-is for akhand Bharat simply won’t work as expected, not just because of the extreme diversity, but also due to the nano cultural nuances, that date back to many a millennia, which the entrepreneurs of considerably young western societies (in terms of culture, not age of people) have no clue about and choose to ignore in their zest for rapid global expansion. 🙄 Oh, the twenty something millionaires and their billionaire dreams…
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Buying milk afresh and systematically preparing and enjoying copious cups of aromatic filter coffee or adharat chai, first thing in the morning (and many times a day, afterwards 😜), is a very unique Indian thing – practically a habit ingrained in the Indian psyche. From the long gone days of zero-carbon-footprint milkman who brought it in aluminium (oh yeah, it’s pronounced with an ‘i’ you ithings-obsessed forbidden fruit man’i’acs) cans and delivered it at every customer home to the reusable glass bottle days to the abominable single-use plastic sachet days of now (take that you – still – plastic-packet-delivering quasi-government entity that’s yet another commercial wing of the plastic-ban-implementation-attempting government), getting fresh (hopefully, who is going to check with the cows!) milk everyday is a must-do activity in many a middle class household, upper or otherwise.

Even today, in established residential localities, one can see uncles and grandpas buying milk sachets from the same vendor (for a few decades, at the minimum – despite the persistent ‘absolutely no customer service whatsoever’ motto of quite a few Aavin vendors, aka that quasi-government entity), during their morning walks. Who gives a damn about the walk – other than the family doc – it’s the current affairs chat with age-old pals and the fresh milk that’s important 😂.

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While this walking/talking/milk buying ritual is happening outside, there’ll be another ritual happening inside the houses to which the fresh milk is headed, in parallel (or is it simultaneously). With the ubiquitous M.S. Suprabhatham bgm (thou may upgrade the device that emits that enchanting evergreen voice to a smartphone+bluetooth speaker combo, but thou shalt not replace the song/chant, ever), lamp(s) get lit in the puja room, with a dash of fragrant smoke from agarbatti and/or sambrani, and the coffee maker starts the warm-up routine to delight the household souls, as unfailingly as the sun that rises to warm and light up the world.

The filter may be a generation or two old brass (பித்தளை) or eversilver (chrome) one or one of those electric coffee makers made by Preethi, Prestige, Philips and the like. The he elders disapprove of this modern thingamagig of course, but have grudgingly allowed it to take over the beloved kaapi filter’s place, in many households. But the coffee brand and the blend is so sacrosanct (Cothas in Swamily, at present – post the strong recommendation from Swamy’s Chithappa, who himself is a long term coffee connoisseur) to each family that even attempting to change it is tantamount to treason.

During his childhood, Swamy remembers visiting the friendly neighbourhood coffee (powder) maker ‘LR Swamy Coffee’ in SS Colony, Madurai, whenever the routine purchase of freshly ground coffee-chicory blend was done by some senior family member. It won’t be an exaggeration to say that a significant part of that entire street was always filled with the bewitching aroma of coffee, all day long. In fact, there was even a hand-operated mini-grinder at Swamy’s grandparents’ home (where his primary education years were spent), which was used to make freshly ground coffee powder at home. While many families in that neighborhood may’ve eventually moved on, it won’t be a surprise if LR Swamy Coffee is still around, grinding aromatic coffee afresh, for a handful of diehard nostalgic customer fans.

As soon as the milk arrives, it gets boiled with froth in a few quick minutes (when the walker impatiently scans the headlines of newspapers – full reading cannot proceed just yet) and a small cupful of milk is offered first to the family deity in the puja room. Next, the aromatic coffee decoction (which, in the western world, is called coffee, btw, heh.. heh..) gets mixed with the right proportion of milk, in multiple tumblers seated inside dabaras. Depending on each coffee connoisseur’s insulin generation capacity & capability, either excess or the right or less or no amount of sugar is added to each tumbler. Then the back and forth pouring between the tumbler and dabara happens a few times, before the piping hot first cup of frothy coffee of the day gets delivered to its connoisseur, who starts relishing it sip by sip. And thus, yet another day dawns in the (typically South, but mostly some parts of Tamilnadu and Karnataka) Indian household. A similar ritual happens in the chai consuming households, obviously.

Oh, for the uninitiated (in what’s collectively known as South Indian culture, which is obviously a misnomer, for the four South Indian states are as different as Madras Filter Kaapi and Kerala Kattanchai), traditional coffee preparation is on/near the very top of the must-learn things list of a new bride, who is keen on blending in with her new family (you are denied the opportunity to accuse Swamy of misogyny for he is the one who typically performs this morning ritual @ SwamyHome 😂). The manni / maatruppen (daughter-in-law) who masters the magical art of making the perfect family coffee is pretty much guaranteed to become the new superstar of a typical tradition-bound South Indian family, overnight, err… overday!

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Now that an app is available for home delivery of fresh packaged milk, daily, the uncles and thathas can have their daily morning cuppa, without having to venture out of the comfort of their abode – if they choose to, that is. To entice many of them, the SUPR app not only assures to deliver fresh milk (as fresh as processed milk can be, of course) daily but also throw in a few sachets of free milk. While Swamy can’t endorse the app without actually trying it (now you know for a fact why none of the SwamyView reviews can be fake), be assured that he is one of those South Indian coffee connoisseurs, for whom the daily morning fresh – and strong, and hot – cuppa is as important as the daily Kriya.

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P.S. The multitude of ‘Kumbakonam Degree Coffee’ food stalls that dot the GST (that would be ‘Grand Southern Trunk,’ not that notoriously popular all-encompassing tax) road aka NH47, at least until Vizhuppuram, that serve coffee in brass dabara-tumbler are mostly nondescript tea stalls that learnt to milk the decoction coffee nostalgia (pun very intended) of travellers,quite successfully. While some of them are quite good, others should just stick to selling chai and Bru coffee, instead of insulting genuine filter kaapi lovers.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

Rectal Analysis of Respect!

19 Nov

Rectal Analysis of Respect!

Rectal Analysis or examination is a particularly painful form of invasive medical examination. For many who undergo that, it’s also shameful, considering the fact one has to bare his/her bottom to a third person in a brightly lit public space! Don’t worry, this post isn’t meant to educate you on the process and outcome of the Rectal Analysis itself, but to use that as a metaphor for critical analysis of ‘Respect.’

In retrospect, this post could’ve been titled “Regression Analysis of Respect” or “Reciprocal Analysis of Respect,” both of which would’ve induced some curiosity but you’ll (hopefully!) understand why the title is what it is, by the time you finish reading the post in its entirety, i.e. from the crown of the head to the toenail, including the rectum, naturally 😀

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Human existence is filled with disappointments, in any given lifetime. Disappointment arises out of expectations not being met. Though this is the norm in the ultra-competitive success-obsessed society of present day, humans, who happen to be believers of miracles, continue to expect their expectations being met by fellow humans. Being respected – by others – is one such expectation.

Respect, though just a superficial expression that may not reveal the true emotions or feelings, remains one of the great expectations of the funny species known as the Homo Sapiens.                                                   ~Swamy

People in power, such as ministers of a(ny) government or officials who are on the higher rungs of bureaucracy naturally expect to be respected by everyone. Though much of what they say or do isn’t that honourable anymore, they get annoyed if they are not addressed as ‘honourable’ xyz. Such annoyance may result in a reprimand or even punishment (‘digital age’… what’s that!), which at times could completely ruin the rest of someone’s existence.

Politicians with bloated egos expect to be respected even when they are out of the orbit of power. Celebrities, who totally believe that their whole existence is such as blessing for humanity that they must be adored by one and all, too expect respect from even an anonymous troll. Teachers, preachers, coaches, bosses, elders, kids… the list of those who expect respect could easily be all of them or at least 80% of them (well, any writer worth his salt must use the 80-20% rule one way or another, if his/her writing needs to be respected.. ha.. ha..).

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Respect needs to be commanded, not demanded. But no one other than this writer seems to even think so! So anyone (which is basically everyone in the above para and anyone else like them, which will most probably include you as well) who demands respect is anyway bound to be disappointed because even when people actually respect them, it only seems so but not really so.

People are smart enough to put on the right facade for the right moron, because in the plane of survival, no one trusts their real personality for achieving desirable outcomes anymore. So when you are overjoyed by the 314 people who assembled for your some-nonsensical-recognition event, profusely congratulating you on your great achievement with broad smiles plastered on their face, they’re really there because either they don’t have a choice to not be there or they know full well they can save a tidy sum that day by gorging on the free food and beverages. It doesn’t cost them anything other than a silly smile and even sillier message to pump some more gas into your already bloated ego balloon.

The Mahatma was respected by the common people because he never demanded it, from anyone, despite his phenomenal, peerless achievement – of gaining freedom from a powerful foreign invader, without actually waging a war (through non-violent protest). Pretty much all his peers and those who followed them, despite the fact that many of them too have toiled hard for the same worthy cause, aren’t celebrated as much as he was and still is, simply because everyone of their actions was weighed against those of the father-of-the-nation and simply couldn’t match or exceed that exceptional benchmark.

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It took several decades for someone like Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi to emerge, in a different continent and country, and Mandela, who can be considered his true successor,  was humble enough to acknowledge the Gandhi connect and inspiration for his own struggle and eventual success in attaining freedom from oppression. Today’s politicians don’t stand a chance to earn the respect of even people of their own analog generation and can forget even dreaming about any such expectation from the present digital generation. What they unfailingly get from their acolytes and the sycophants surrounding them isn’t really respect but a pre-recorded (and well practised) act of respect that’s just repeated as many times as it needs to be, to ensure their own sustenance.

Still, even a nondescript member of a family or clan or organisation continues to expect respect from others, and feel hurt when they don’t get that from (m)any. This happens due to skewed notion of the act of respect itself, which is mostly learned through observation over years of one’s physical, psychological and social growth. An example or two would help comprehend this not-so-complex phenomenon.

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A family typically comprises of husband, wife, child(ren), parents/elders and siblings/younger members. There are a set of expectations that are almost etched on stone in the intricate social grouping known as family, as follows.

  • Parents / Elders must be respected by all, simply because they’ve been there and done that, i.e. their existence in this lifetime is longer than anyone else in the family, which automatically qualifies them for respect from everyone else. They naturally take offence when they’re not spoken to or bowed down to by everyone else.
  • Husband / Wife expect to be respected by children and siblings/younger members of the family, because they have taken over the responsibility of taking care of them, which makes them 2nd in the respect hierarchy 
  • Spouses expect respect from each other, because both of them contribute towards sustenance of the family significantly but neither of them are respected by either those above or below
  • Children / younger members of the family expect to be respected for their knowledge / exposure of the new world they belong to, which they know that the elders are clueless about and the parents aren’t conversant with.

So, in a reasonably smaller social group of family, everyone expects respect unconditionally but most are willing to offer respect only conditionally. Since the situation gets far more convoluted in larger social groups such as organisations, residential societies, religious organisations, charitable associations, etc, let’s limit the focus to the family and try to unravel this mysterious thing known as respect, which seems to have besotted every single member.

All relationships are transactional. If there’s a relationship between persons A and B, then very existence of the relationship is defined by the type of transactions that happen between them, irrespective of whether those transactions are regular / continuous or occasional. Human transactions are typically actions that are observed through the five senses (visual, auditory, olfactory, vocal/taste and touch) and comprehended with the sixth (intellect). While the first five senses are physical in nature, i.e. associated with the body, the sixth is psychological, i.e. associated with the mind.

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So when a family member expresses his/her opinion on a matter to anyone in the family, the physical senses convey their emotion through words (vocal), facial expressions or bodily movements (visual) and possibly physical action (touch) as well. The observer who is the receiving end utilises visual, auditory and touch to receive the expression. Both parties utilise their intellect (however limited it is) to craft the expression and comprehend it. This results in a reaction and/or response. This dramedy goes on and on, day in and day out, helping sustain the relationship, however thin (or strong) the strands that hold it together are.

The medium used by humans to communicate expression or convey an emotion is based on noise. One either speaks or writes to another using a language that’s common between them. For example, I’m writing this blog post to express my perspective on the pointless nature of respect. I could also speak about this and share it in the form of an audio or video clip. So, communication, in some form or another, is the standard template to convey expressions. As long as everyone adheres to this template, everything seems to be going fine. 

The challenge arises in the absence of noise, i.e. when someone chooses to be silent and not express anything. Without reciprocation of noise, the originator of noise doesn’t know what to do. Let’s say you accuse your spouse of forgetting your well-deserved (according to you, obviously) birthday gift. If s/he completely ignores the accusation and remains silent, you’re not only confused (because there’s no rebuttal or apology, which you were expecting) but also annoyed. Even if you know for a fact that your spouse is not a fan of celebrating the past and doesn’t celebrate his/her birthday either.

The simple fact that your expectation wasn’t met results in disappointment. And you’re left frustrated, because you feel that you’re not respected by your spouse anymore. Whereas in your spouse’s radar this may not even register as a blip, since s/he is known to be indifferent about celebrations of any kind of day. So it’s quite possible that s/he isn’t even aware that the mischievous monster known as respect is at play.

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This perennial problem continues to haunt families because of the following unresolved equations, which appear to be seamlessly connected, but in reality aren’t.

Relationship = Communication + Re/action

Present = Past + Future

Respect = Relationship + Present

All of them are incorrect as they’re based on assumptions.

When you ass-u-me something about me, you’re essentially making an ass of you and me.

And that itself is a very good reason for a rectal analysis (of respect, of course – I haven’t forgotten the title, yet).

Relationship between two distinct entities develop over a period of time, based on understanding and trust, both being mutual. For a husband and wife, the duration could be just a few weeks (pre or post marriage) or the entire lifespan (post wedding).

Marriage is an opportunity for two individuals to clearly understand that the religiously authorised and socially approved union doesn’t mean they’re not one unified person with singular stream of thoughts and actions but still two distinct personalities that agree to exist together for the well-being of themselves and everyone associated with them. 

It’ll obviously take a while for this understanding to dawn upon a newly wed pair of individuals, during which they’ll have to consciously invest time to understand – and, needless to say, appreciate and accept – their individual characteristics, behavioural traits, expressions, beliefs, mode of communication, preferences, perspectives, idiosyncrasies, etc. Such understanding will help build trust, between the two. Understanding and Trust together will enable the couple to act as one – to please the society which still absolutely believes that marriage is a holy union and continues to propagate that idea, though between them they know better and know which facade to put on, when, where and to whom.

So, Relationship = Understanding + Trust. Which means, one can have wonderful relationships with others even in the complete absence of communication or re/action. That’s why a Guru-Sishya relationship is far stronger than that of spouses.

Thoughts are rooted in the past, while Dreams (which too are thoughts, btw) are seeded in the future.

But Reality happens only in the present. By pondering about the long gone past and wondering about the yet-to-happen future, humans completely miss the possibilities of the present. Since Present becomes Past in Future, one actually misses out on living during the lifetime by not being focused on the present. Past is only a reference and its practical value is either limited or none. Future is only a probability as humans are incapable of time travel – especially ahead in time. Present is the only real possibility. But how do humans act in the present?

Family2While arguing about something with family members (which is happening in the present), one always remembers to amply quote similar incidences and others’ reactions in the past and predict a repeat in the future. This not only showcases how the arguer is rooted to the past and speculates about future, but also limits the listener / observer (those who are at the receiving end) to the past and future. With both parties entirely missing the present, can anything worthwhile be the outcome of such arguments.

So, Present = – Past – Future (mathematically, minus minus = plus). Which means, focus on the situation at hand, in the present, seeking options and solutions, from anyone who is present, instead of lamenting about past and postulating about future, thereby diminishing your presence.

Aha, that has eventually brought us to the final equation on Respect. And it’s inevitable Rectal Analysis!

Though the rectal analysis is performed externally on (or through) the rectum, it’s typical purpose is to identify the problem that’s internal. Like a prostate or appendix condition, for example. So, the rectal analysis of respect isn’t necessarily about respect itself, but things that are associated with it, but may not be clearly perceivable – especially using the 6 senses.

Relationship has nothing to do with respect. Respect can be there between any two beings – human or not. When one looks at how most birds wake up and retire on time, exactly at dawn and dusk (there are exceptions, of course), day after day, one can’t help but respect their discipline. One doesn’t know if they contemplate the outcome of not retiring at dusk on any given day or for that matter, sleeping for an extra hour after dawn. Nature has many such strictly adhered to cycles, including but not limited to sun and moon rise, tides, monsoon, migration of birds, collection of food by ants organised in neat rows, baby animals instinctively recognising their mothers and sticking to them, et al. But the forever busy humans perennially immersed in petty survival tasks don’t have time to observe and respect the order and resonance in nature, despite it’s complexity, diversity, intricacy and sheer expanse.

swamyray70_matterOn a cosmic scale, even a planet like Earth – the only one where the hilarious species of Homo Sapiens exists, along with possibly millions of other species – is like an imperceptible nondescript speck of dust. On such a tiny planet, in a particular continent, in one of the countries, in a state within the country, in a town or city, along some winding road or lane, within a residential area, inside a single dwelling unit, a few human beings exist. These individuals are identified collectively as a family. It is these puny beings in existence that expect respect from one another. Without having a clue about how the sun or pigeon or even the plant in the balcony swaying gently in the evening breeze wouldn’t even shrug if they cease to exist this day. Or the next. In other words, no other being on this cosmos either expects or offers respect, as if it’s a mandatory requirement to exist.

In case you still expect that funny thing called respect, from anyone, for anything you’ve done or doing or going to do, do ponder the following for a few moments.

  • When was the last time you’ve volunteered to help a stranger? 
  • What if you have chosen not to help him/her/it (the stranger could’ve been a tail-wagging friendly neighbourhood stray puppy)? Wouldn’t there be no one else to offer help?
  • What was your motivation to help – need, ability, capacity, kindness, compassion, anger, resentment or something else?
  • What was the expectation from that action – earning respect from someone (the recipient or an observer who has seen it or a friend or family member with whom you shared it) or to simply feeling good / happy?
  • What was your assessment of the situation – an opportunity (to offer help) or a random incident (when you ended up offering help)?
  • Would the physical appearance / condition of the being/person (a profusely bleeding accident victim vs a handicapped person or a dog with skin rashes vs a joyful puppy) influence your decision to help in any way?
  • What makes you think you’re the one who chose to and offered help? Have you ever wondered if you were simply destined to be there in that place at that exact moment?
  • What would’ve been your action, had you known up front that no one will respond or react to your action? Would it be the same or different?
  • What will you do if a similar situation arises, in the future, had your action in the past not been recognised or applauded by (m)any?
  • What would be a more appropriate feeling about the situation & action – a sense of gratitude (for the opportunity and ability to help another being) or that of pride (“I helped someone in need”)?

The situation need not be a public space and the recipient of help need not be a stranger. This situation prevails in every single residence, workplace and public space, where humans are omnipresent. Put yourself in the position of both the helper and the helped, in different environments, and observe your action (or the lack of it). The pondering of such possibilties can be cathartic and painful – not too different from a rectal analysis.

swamyray112a_knowIrrespective of whether one toils hard at something or not, one performs actions expecting a specific outcome. Hard working employees expect a reward – award, promotion or pay rise. Homemakers expect an occasional appreciation – words, gestures or gifts. Students expect a pass mark, rank and placement. Pets expect rubs and treats. Entrepreneurs expect growth and publicity. Business owners expect profits, quarter after quarter. Investors expect perennial growth of wealth. Celebrities expect worship from delirious followers. People in power expect respect from everyone. Essentially, everyone expects something out of everything and everyone else.

Respect is one such expectation. It isn’t really an outcome, but either a silly expression (saluting a higher ranking official) or a giggle-inducing gesture (an assembly of people rising for another person’s arrival) or downright ridiculous action (prostrating in front of a politician). Such acts may offer momentary pleasure or a fleeting moment of happiness to the recipient of respect. But it’s an addictive drug. The more and more one perceives it, the more and more one desires it. Irony is, nobody cares about those who offer respect anyway, because that’s what they’re expected to do.

DisappointmentCWhere there’s an expectation, there’s bound to be disappointment. Always. When one doesn’t get the expected respect, one gets annoyed, disappointed, frustrated and dejected. Such negative emotions will result in a reaction – spontaneous or delayed, which will invariably be destructive in nature. The alternative is not to have any expectation associated with any action, though actions are aimed at outcomes.

That’s obviously easier said than done. But considering that it has been communicated in a powerful environment by someone who is worshipped by millions (as God, no less) even today delivering maximum impact, that too many a millennia ago, it’s certainly worth considering.

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन । मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भुर्मा ते संगोऽस्त्वकर्मणि ॥

You have a right to perform your prescribed duty, but you are not entitled to the fruits of action. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, and never be attached to not doing your duty.

~ Bhagavad Gita, Chapter II, Verse 47

Yep, this powerful message about futility of having expectations has been communicated by none other than Lord Krishna himself, in the seminal treatise known as the Bhagavad Gita. It was his message to Arjuna (to whom he was friend, philosopher and guide until then, and God now, i.e. while delivering the Gita) who was worried about the outcome of the monstrous war of Mahabharata, which had become inevitable. Pretty much everyone facing him (and the Pandava army) were his relatives – both elder and younger, or acquaintances – including teachers. Krishna enabled Arjuna to focus on the action, which was his prescribed duty, by clarifying that neither was he the cause of action (waging war) nor was the outcome (victory) his entitlement. To reaffirm his words, he has also offered his Viswaroopa darshan to Arjuna, thereby making him aware that he – the Lord – is the be all and end all of all, including Arjuna himself.

BhagavadGita3In the present time, life resembles war and existence crawls onward, waging one battle a day. Neither are we Arjuna, willing to listen to someone even at the brink of war, nor are we Krishna, willing to offer clarity of insight, to empower someone with the right capability and enable appropriate action.

We’re simply one of those nondescript soldiers wielding a sword & spear (tools), expected to defeat an unknown opponent (ability/skills), hoping the shield will protect them (knowledge), so they can return in one piece to their family that’s worried sick. Or perhaps we’re one of the captains, expected to take a bunch of foot and mounted soldiers, to their almost inevitable death, for a cause that neither they nor we can even comprehend. The Bhagavad Gita is still around, of course, if at all anyone cares to understand it’s true meaning so one can lead a purposeful life and ultimately realise the Truth.

Irrespective of which battlefront we’re in, at any point in time, in the grand game of Life, whether we play or observe is a choice that’s entirely left to us. Many would love to play but aren’t equipped or lack the ability. To P.L.A.Y needs a lot of painstaking effort and to attain mastery takes a long time. Since humans are impatient, most choose to simply observe. But their observation is so superficial that they don’t feel connected to the game in a significant way. A few choose to officiate, because they love pointing out the mistakes or accomplishments of others. Even fewer choose to lend a helping hand to the players, and even the observers. They go unnoticed, but aren’t bothered about it. It’s those who choose to lend a helping hand to anyone in need, with nary a care about “what’s in it for me?,” are in reality the real players. But even they may not be aware of it.

SGQ1

A lifetime is a collection of precious moments, each pregnant with immense possibilities, awaiting the potential for purposeful action.                ~Swamy

And action can happen only in the present. Purpose driven action needs absolute involvement, from everyone who is part of the action. Involvement implies focus remaining on the action and nothing else. This is known as Sthithapragna, or single-mindedness aka one-pointed or singular focus. Sthithapragna is not possible if the focus gets diverted towards outcome as well, even if the diversion is only for a few fleeting moments. Sthithapragna is possible only when the performer (of action) is rooted in the present. It gets diluted when one looks at, or even thinks about, the past or future. Such dilution of focus makes the outcome a probability, not possibility.

sq-usefulWhichever is your playspace – home, workplace, charity, public arena, or the vast boundless space itself – as long as you remain focused on the action, which happens in the present, the desired outcome will always be a distinct possibility. But as soon as your attention gets diverted by expectations about both the action and outcome, you’ve already strayed into the past and/or future, thereby losing grip on the present. 

If you mop the floor of the house or prepare lunch for the family daily, your focus should be only on the action – preparation, execution and completion. Instead, if you expect appreciation from a family member for the spotless floor or the delicious sambar, you’re setting up yourself for disappointment.

It’s no different at workplace. A weekly report, project presentation or minutes-of-meeting may appear pointless to you, but is essential for business sustenance and growth. So focus on the action and give it your best shot. And then move on to the next action. The moment you expect an appreciation or reward for your action, you’ve set yourself up for disappointment.

If you happen to be a writer (like yours truly), then your focus should only be on writing something (like this hard-hitting post on Rectal Analysis – of you-know-what, heh.. heh..) and not on how many likes or comments this post may get from potential readers (zero, in all probability).

The rectum is an essential organ of the body. Without it, the fecal matter can’t be released from the body, which could lead to acute medical conditions that may even turn fatal. The ass (or arse, if you’re a proud practitioner of supposedly true English – of the British kind) itself is neither proud of its critical function in keeping the ass-owner alive nor feels repugnant about being the permanent outlet for excreta. It simply focuses on the action, as soon as it’s seated on the toilet, time after time, day after day. The ass is always focused on the action, remaining rooted in the present. It isn’t bothered about today’s shitting being a better or bitter experience compared to yesterday or improving the quality of shit by 0.01%, for the rest of the lifetime of the body it’s a part of. It’s actually the asshole to whom the ass belongs to that’s the cause of all such nonsense. 

That, dear reader, is the “Rectal Analysis of Respect!” 

Oh btw, the title that caught your imagination (and pushed you to read this far – to the very last line of the post) is known as Clickbait, in web or social lingo 😉 And no, the writer didn’t have outcome (of making you read the entire post) in mind while writing this blog. But you did it anyway, didn’t ya! So, why don’t you also be kind enough to like, comment and share this post with your social acquaintances (now that’s not an expectation, but a simple request, so it really doesn’t matter if you do or don’t). 

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 220+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.
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Why is JK’s Teaching So Hard To Comprehend!

1 Nov

Why is JK’s teaching so hard to comprehend!

Recently a pal lamented “But to be honest i am not able to understand JK as much as Sadhguru.” Another acquaintance too has mentioned something similar. These two are part of a tiny distribution list that Swamy communicates to on WhatsApp, members of which receive regular (not daily, as Swamy is known to simply keep quiet for a few days, occasionally) posts on Spirituality – including those by Swamy – and rare ones on survival (valuable insights that Swamy comes across during his media grazing). This DL* is the remnant of what used to be the SwamyPals WhatsApp group (disbanded a while ago) and only those who have personally requested Swamy for inclusion have been added to this. Interestingly, the latest potential inclusion to the SwamyShare DL could be an auto driver, who over a half-an-hour ride ended up requesting Swamy for worthy things to know in and about Life, for which he has dedicated time late at night, after completing his auto rides for the day!
Now, back to the pal’s lament… 
I am not able to understand JK as much as Sadhguru.” 
This leads to the question, which happens to be the title of this Swamystery blog post.

Why is JK’s teaching so hard to comprehend!

It’s not just this individual seeker (the respondent certainly is one, but not as overtly as Swamy, for obvious survival reasons ;), but a lot of people, who may or may not be seekers, who find it really hard to understand / comprehend JK’s teaching. 😂 Simply because they’re doing what they are always known to do – try to comprehend whatever information one has access to, using one’s senses – at least some of the six, so that the information makes sense. But spirituality was never about making sense – especially through the senses!
JK is Jiddu Krishnamurti, who had taught – primarily through public speeches, worldwide – the way to realise the self, i.e. true nature of a being, for almost 3/4th of the 20th century. He continues to remain a popular teacher of self-realisation through direct perception of reality, with ardent followers present globally, till date, a few decades after he left his physical form. The Krishnamurti Foundation continues to spread his – almost agnostic – message to seekers of truth by publishing books (of excellent quality), audio and video (plenty are available on YouTube). They also run the famous Rishi Valley school.
8bf4a6706656fa4177aceda3e74b517aJ. Krishnamurti is essentially a teacher of Advaita Vedanta, though he himself would not like to be associated with any kind of existing method/model/process (though direct perception of reality” is an ancient method for realising the Truth and there had been many practitioners – and possibly Masters as well – for several centuries before him) and refrained from being identified with a religion (though he was born a Hindu), possibly even nationality (he was obviously Indian, by birth, but lived in Ojai, California and travelled extensively, worldwide) and wasn’t known to quote or refer to any particular scripture (though he must’ve been quite knowledgeable in many, due to his ‘preparation’ by the Theosophical Society – to be a new Messiah, no less, which he eventually dissociated from) during the multitude of speeches and interactions, for getting his message across.
With JK, the method / process of self-realisation is through “direct perception of reality”, which is a hard way because one must use one’s mind itself to transcend the mind. 🤔 It’s like knowing what a knife is for, i.e. the dual purpose of it, and consciously using it only to cut things and not beings, not because someone told so but because of one’s own knowing. And with JK, there’s no masala or drama at all, i.e. no worship, no bhajans, no meditation, nothing at all. He speaks about Truth & Reality from his direct experience and persistently requests the listeners to experience it along with him, instead of just listening to him and trying to comprehend whatever he is saying. There have been many instances when he actually laughs (very subtly, of course) at the listeners’ inability to ‘experience’ whatever he was communicating and even tells them so. In essence, he actually discourages anyone from trying to understand / comprehend what he is saying, because reality / truth can only be experienced by the individual being and not comprehended, since that experience is beyond the limitations of the subjective human intellect. 
Let’s take this one for example, to understand (ha.. ha..) how futile it is to comprehend, but how easier it would be to experience and simply know!
This is nothing but the mahavakya “Aham Brahmasmi,” i.e. “I’m the Brahman.” It’s the realisation that the individual being (you, me, anyone…) is in reality the supreme truth/reality/consciousness or creator/God. The Creator is indeed the Creation. The unmanifest Brahman is the manifest Being. He is essentially stating the ancient Truth and emphasising that one must experience this Truth oneself and no one – not even one’s Guru – can offer that experience. 
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi once told a questioner “There are no others.” 
Sadhguru consistently reminds seekers that “the creator is within each and every creation.” 
Jesus told followers “the kingdom of God is within you.” 
JK told “In oneself lies the whole world…”
They we/are all essentially saying the same. A Master can only point the Seeker in the right direction and offer guidance and tools to reach the destination. It’s only the seeker who has to strive and reach the destination. That’s why the ultimate experience is known as self-realisation aka enlightenment.
Let’s take another example to understand (ha.. ha.. again) this.
JKQ1
We usually presume that fear arises out of not knowing something. One is afraid of ghosts because one doesn’t know anything about them – not in one’s own experience. All that one knows about ghosts is from horror fiction and films. If and when one actually experiences a ghostly presence, and realises that it doesn’t (or couldn’t) really harm anyone (because the ghost or a being without physical form is left only with tendencies / vasanas and can’t translate them into action – at least not by themselves), then one will be at peace with the idea of ghost, because now one knows what it is. Unfortunately, pretty much all human beings in existence only know the book and film ghosts. That’s the known, not the unknown. When one actually gets to know a ghost, then the known idea of a ghost inevitably crumbles. So, the human challenge is not really ‘not knowing’ something but the acceptance of ‘not knowing,’ from one’s own experience. 
Sadhguru prepares his followers for this acceptance by saying, “What you know you know; what you don’t know, you simply don’t know!”
Ramana Maharshi questions those who lament to him about their suffering, “Who is suffering?”
Now ponder the same thing, by replacing ghost with God. Try it – it’ll be fun 🙂
Alright, let’s do one last analysis before concluding this post. This is essential to know how all the Masters are essentially communicating the same thing, but differently.
 
Humans willingly adhere to what can be termed as ‘template living.’ They prefer to ‘fit in’ rather than ‘stand out,’ in a society that is built with rules. It makes them feel comfortable and offers some kind of assurance that they are part of something bigger than themselves, i.e. the society, which accepts them as a part of it, when they comply with the living guidelines to be part of it. It’s the society that decides what one knows and what one need not. Education, which is a primary criteria to be part of the society, is designed to teach students only what the society wants them to know. Tests are created to ensure the students don’t lose focus on the content and stick only to that. Education is limited to only studying and has no room of learning, because learning will lead to knowing. And knowing will liberate a human being from the clutches of the society, which obviously the society doesn’t like. Put succinctly, society is the ocean that expects the water drops to believe and behave as a part of the ocean and not know that they are indeed the ocean.
That’s why the ancient sages stayed as far away as possible from the society that thrives on survival – in forests and mountains, in order to pursue various paths to know the Truth. They were alone, but weren’t lonely, because they were already one with The One or striving to be. They consciously remained untainted by the writ of the society, remaining free – by choice, of course – of the comforts that ‘template living’ offered. That’s exactly why even the emperor had to seek their counsel, by inviting them to their kingdom to guide and teach. Modern day sages such as Sadhguru have created such an environment in the form of tremendous spaces of energy, for serious spiritual seekers to be free from the boundaries of the societal template, at least for some period of time, to experience “Life, the way it is.” 
Be it the ancient sages or teachers such as JK or Masters such as Sadhguru, they are saying and doing exactly the same things, for exactly the same purpose – liberation of an individual being from the chain of the known to experience the unknown Truth. They persist in pointing out that what one thinks as truth is merely the known, i.e. some version of the truth as told by someone possibly based on their experience, and the Truth one truly needs to seek can only be known by the individual.
If one really delves deeper into JK’s teaching, it’s nothing but the path of GnAna yoga 😇. And there haven’t been many Gurus (Realised Masters) for this path, except for a few such as BhagavAn RamaNa Maharishi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Papaji, Ramesh Balsekar (Nisargadatta Maharaj’s disciple), Alan Watts (all in the past) and even fewer like Mooji (disciple of Papaji), Eckhart Tolle (he quotes JK in detail, but isn’t a disciple, since JK discouraged the Guru-SishyA model itself) and Sri Bhagavath (who is offering an even simpler approach to realisation).
Best of without communication quotes 38 best Ramana Maharshi Quotes images on PinterestGnAna yoga too is an ancient path to the Truth (alongside Bakthi yoga, Karma yoga & Kriya/Raja yoga) but without many Gurus to guide, the number of practitioners has always been minuscule. In Buddhism, the Zen Masters are considered true Masters of this path, but this isn’t that active – or even widely known, for that matter – in MeraBharatMahan. Since Osho aka Bhagavan Rajaneesh has spoken / written extensively on Zen, he too can be considered as a Master of this path, though he wrapped it up in a more colourful way (which ended up enticing scores of western disciples, who were obviously enthralled by the eclectic mix of his teaching).
Incidentally Adi Shankaracharya has written extensively about GnAna yoga 🙏 in books such as Atma BodhA, Tathva BodhA, Aparokshanhuboothi, VivEka ChoodaamaNi, etc.📚 and Masters such as Swami Chinmayananda have spoken and written interpretations for these, and also taught them to seekers, during their time. It would be of interest to some of you to know that Adi Shankaracharya, who is revered as an avatar of the Adi Guru Lord Shiva himself, has done extensive work on all the four paths to realise the Truth. He also gave an effective course-correction for Sanatana Dharma (aka Hinduism) and rejuvenated its practices (creation of 6 ways of worship, establishment of 4 mutts for spiritual guidance to seekers, etc), which is one of the reasons it is prevalent and active even today.
SQ-4Sadhguru (Founder of Isha Foundation; Padma Vibhushan awardee; Bestselling Author; extremely popular SocialMedia personality; Living Master / Mystic / Yogi of the ancient kind, and also Swamy’s Guru) refers to the same as experiencing and living “Life, the way it is,” i.e. acceptance of Reality as it is, without applying our intellect (which is text-bookish and very limited, anyway) to comprehend it. 😌 Since, as a contemporary Master, he’s fully aware of the nature of the present generation of humans (watch his YouTube videos right away, if you haven’t experienced his magnificent presence yet), he’s crafted several Methods (Kriyas & meditations), Tools (Dhyanalinga, Lingabhairavi, Yantra) and Initiatives (Isha Vidhya, Project GreenHands, Rural Rejuvenation, Gramotsavam, Rally For Rivers, etc) to prepare millions of global followers to a level where they may actually be ready to perceive Reality, as it is. 😇 He is also working simultaneously to create a group of monks and teachers – of both genders, of course – and establishing energy spaces that are conducive to the spiritual practices, to ensure this path to Truth remains active even after his physical existence is done with.
SQ-SpiritualityIrrespective of whether you’re a seeker or not, if you’re enticed by JK but find it hard to comprehend, don’t despair. You should actually be glad that the seeking within is becoming an unquenchable thirst, which is necessary for a Guru to happen to guide you in this lifetime itself (Guru shopping just doesn’t work, period). Instead of worrying, try watching / listening to Mooji or Ekhart Tolle, (who are both westerners btw – in case you’re wary of Indian Masters) who are Living Masters of GnAna yoga path, who get JK’s message across to the listener differently. Or, there’s Sadhguru himself, who has spoken at length about pretty much everything in existence, which is available to anyone interested on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Podomatic, etc. You don’t even have to be a seeker or Isha meditator to know – it’s all free! 🙌😌🙏
*DL aka Distribution List is different from a Group (in apps like WhatsApp). It’s a one-way communication tool, which a group of people belonging to a DL will receive the message simultaneously but can respond to the sender only individually. A Group is more of a forum where everyone can share and respond.
Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂
~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy
Connect with Swamy…
You’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 220+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.
You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

A Root Cause Analysis of Life ~ Part 2/3

24 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 2/3

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You may read Part 1 of “A Root Cause Analysis of an Aspect of Life!” here…

https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/2018/07/13/a-root-cause-analysis-of-life-1-3/

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I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this?

Procrastinate, by definition means, “delay or postpone action; put off doing something.” So the questioner implies the delay in translating thoughts (remember, there’s no good or bad) into purposeful action. And the source of thoughts, as surmised from the question itself, is teachings from many Gurus, which are essentially experiential wisdom, shared by them for the benefit of seekers.

Let’s take one such wisdom – from Swamy’s Master Sadhguru – to understand the situation better.

With every breath, we are one step closer to the grave. Now is the time to explore a dimension beyond body and mind.” ~Sadhguru

SG1Sadhguru is a Realised Master with millions of followers across the globe. So drops of wisdom such as this quote have a significant impact – at least at thought level, if not in action – on many of his followers. Swamy’s comprehension of this phenomenal quote is…

Every moment that is not spent on pursuit of truth (on the spiritual path) is a wasted opportunity, in the brief lifetime of a human being. So, this very moment is the right time to start your sadhana, to attain self-realisation (and liberation, eventually).

Someone else may comprehend it differently. Irrespective of how it is comprehended, this pristine pearl of spiritual wisdom will immediately trigger some thoughts in the reader’s mind, which will inevitably gain acceleration and travel faster than the speed of light (sorry Einstein, the mind doesn’t give two hoots about physics rules), in all kinds of directions, triggering more and more thoughts in turn. Within a few moments, one would’ve simply forgotten both the trigger and the original thought. As a result, this will become one of those billions of lost thoughts, that never get translated into purposeful action.

img_0729.jpgSo, it’s amply clear that “I procrastinate” isn’t the result of any Guru’s ‘good thoughts,’ but caused by the nature of the mind itself. The mind simply goes about its bus(y)iness of generating wave after wave of thoughts, some of which may’ve been triggered by the sayings of a Guru. By trying to follow the perennial flow of thoughts, the reader / seeker simply loses track of even those thoughts that have the potential to translate into purposeful action. This results in the person feeling remorseful for not doing anything about them.

What’s the way out of the muddy remorse pit? To initiate action, of course.

What should a follower of Sadhguru do, upon reading the aforementioned quote? To start the sadhana (spiritual practice) right away.

IMG_20160131_100258How to go about it? The marathon runners* are useful as an example for this. They are typically part of a group or team, members of which run together regularly. It keeps them focused on the activity (long distance running) by inducing discipline through a common schedule and location. Similarly, a seeker could join a group of diligent practitioners, who perform their sadhana regularly. The key is to make it a habit, just like brushing one’s teeth in the morning; taking shower / bath; reading ToI while sipping a piping hot cuppa filter kaapi (coffee) and so on, without being reminded by someone on a daily basis. Over time, one may actually start feeling remorseful for not doing the sadhana daily, instead of not starting it at all.

Social media groups can also helpful in sustaining the sadhana, as many of the spiritual groups share posts on not only the Master’s teachings (blogs, videos, programs…) but also group events for practitioners such as sathsang, which help in staying connected with the Master and his/her teachings and also receive practice corrections from the qualified practitioners.

Maskmovie4Though humans are prone to procrastination, they don’t resort to it when it comes to instant gratification. Tasks related to survival always happen on time – sometimes even ahead of time – because they gratify one’s immediate needs and wants. Eating – at least – thrice a day; ordering stuff or paying bills online; sharing opinion on events and people; cribbing about the inhuman boss; offering unsought advice for, well, anything; complaining about service quality… things like these happen on a daily basis, without any kind of reminder from anyone.

But when it comes to one’s own inner well-being, it can always wait, till whenever! No amount of advise can change this, as the change has to be specific action(s) initiated by the individual. A Guru can only show the path and offer guidance for traversing it, based on his/her own experience. It’s entirely up to the seeker to follow that guidance and proceed / progress with the travel. After all, it’s for one’s own salvation and not the Guru’s (who is already self-realised, anyway). So the solution simply is Nike, ahem, “Just Do It.”

Guru_Swamy3

If a farmer wants a bounty from his farm, s/he has to tend to the crop regularly, diligently.

If a student has to score high and secure a seat for higher education in a premier institute or gain employment with a prominent employer, s/he must study regularly, diligently.

If an investor plans to gain wealth from the financial market, s/he has to invest regularly, diligently.

If an actor or writer aims at being on top of the trade, s/he must act in blockbusters or write bestselling books, regularly, diligently.

If an organisation wants to be on the forefront of the industry, it must continue to train its employees on the cutting-edge technology and relevant processes, regularly, diligently.

So, for a seeker, there is no other option but to put the Guru’s teachings into practice. That too right away. Now. And sustain the practices, till the purpose is realised!

Mull these musings for a few days and look forward to Part 3/3, i.e. the concluding part!

*Two of Swamy’s younger brothers and a sister-in-law are professional Marathon runners. Swamily also participates in the annual Chennai Marathon, to support the Isha Vidhya rural education initiative.

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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A Root Cause Analysis of Life – 1/3

13 Jul

A Root Cause Analysis of – an Aspect of – Life! – Part 1/3

Disclaimer: This 3-parts post isn’t a root cause analysis of Life itself, but just one aspect of it, i.e. inability to translate thoughts into action. Oh btw, unlike in the past^, this time all 3 parts will certainly get published in quick succession, as the post is more-ore-less completed already, but being shared in three parts just to help readers comprehend and – hopefully – contemplate!

An acquaintance of Swamy, who happens to be a meditator, recently reflected thus…
I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts. I still procrastinate. How to overcome this? Is there any guidance for this? Due to this character I have lost more but still I do the same…🤔

This is the natural state of existence, for most humans – seeker or not. Survival is just a series of one insurmountable challenge after another for most, and they invariably end looking up to others (typically those who are successful and popular) for whatever they could get – guidance, advise, counsel, quote, motivational speech, experience sharing, training, books, etc. – to get better, be successful, overcome difficulties, etc. The situation isn’t that different on the spiritual path either, where there are so many choices for a seeker to completely go bonkers.

Sheep13While there is no specific answer or solution to this conundrum, one of the many possible options is succinctly captured by the emoji that the questioner used, at the end of the question, to indicate the thinking or pondering that’s going on. That so-called sixth sense is the only additional tool at the disposal of the Homo Sapiens, which unfortunately isn’t utilised effectively by them to liberate themselves from the BAUHumbug mundane existence. Unlike humans, who for whatever strange reason consider themselves as a superior species despite their incorrigible destructive nature, the remaining species on this tiny planet are quite content with their simple existence, as their lives remain uncomplicated by unnecessary thinking.

In the IT services industry, in which Swamy too had spent pretty much his entire phase of over two decades of survival, there is a popular process known as the “Root Cause Analysis,” to figure out what is causing a particular problem, with the objective of resolving the issue, by applying a temporary fix first (in order to ensure business continuity) and eventually a permanent fix (for preventing recurrence of the problem) as well. There are obviously many tools to perform this analysis (Ishikawa or Fishbone, 5-Why, etc)  but all of them are aimed at the same aforementioned purpose – analysing, understanding and resolving an(y) issue that impacts business continuity.

614px-Cause_and_effect_diagram_for_defect_XXX.svg

Image courtesy: Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ishikawa_diagram

Unfortunately, just like any other myopic perspectives of humans, about anything in life, this root cause analysis process too is focused only on the challenge at hand. Hardly a handful of people who are conversant with the process and the tools, ever use it to gain a larger perspective – at either the business level or at the industry / domain level. That’s why there are so many specialists who keep efficiently utilising the process at a rudimentary level, repeatedly, and very few (if any!) generalists who can effectively use the process to identify, analyse, contemplate, comprehend and craft solutions for real life situations, of which business / work is only a minuscule part.

Anyway, for the sake of the questioner, let’s keep the rant against the incorrigible human nature aside and focus on the situation at hand, by breaking down the reflection / long question into smaller parts, so that each of the components can be analysed to comprehend the whole.

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart

Why do humans read / hear / view what others have said?
To know what the others are supposed to have already known, would be the obvious answer. After all, humans are self-certified experts in taking the easy way out, for practically doing anything in a lifetime!

A Guru – an authentic one who has attained self-realisation, not one of those self-proclaimed character artists – shares his/her experience of Truth (about creator, creation, existence, et al) and offers ways or methods to seekers who strive to attain the same experience. In ancient times, it used to be done in person (ashrams were created primarily for this purpose) but in the perennially busy times that we are present in, it’s being done with the help of all available modes of communication – books, podcasts, videos, blogs, programs…

GuruPurnima1

Guru PUrNima, a day of reverence to all the Realised Masters who have chosen to show the path to realisation to fellow humans, is celebrated worldwide on 27-July-2018.

Unlike the ‘information is power’ survival where even those without any practical experience can be quite successful with acquired knowledge, spirituality is all about knowing, i.e. the actual inner experience of the seeker.

When a seeker accesses the experiential knowing shared by a Guru, it should be for the purpose of attaining the experience and not merely to know about the experience. So, seeking is not about the activity of reading / hearing / viewing the knowledge shared, but about putting it to use, in terms of actions (commonly known as sadhana), with the objective of attaining the same experience as one’s Guru.

In that context, it’s wonderful that the questioner has mentioned “nothing is hitting the heart.” Irrespective of whether it’s expressed with awareness or not, the questioner is actually pointing out how a Master’s teachings can be really effective. The heart referred here is not the blood pump that keeps the physical form ticking, but the spiritual heart known as the Hridhayam. It’s the seat of the divine aka soul. It’s where the creator is present, within each and every piece of the magnificent creation.

When a Guru’s teachings are put to practice, whatever experience happens is always internal. For example, hundreds of books talk about the primal energy of Kundalini and how to raise the dormant coiled serpent from the MUlaadhaara chakra at the base of the spine towards Sahasraara chakra on the top of the skull. To read any of them would naturally be exciting and the reader will exclaim “whoa, I didn’t know such a phenomenal power is hidden within myself.” But after reading the book, one either moves on to another book (must use Amazon Kindle Unlimited subscription effectively!), may be share a review on GoodReads (which about 3 followers may read on social media platforms and 1 compulsive liker may actually “like”) and then get back to one’s BAUHumbug* existence.

The serpent simply can’t be risen by reading books and needs to be practised under the watchful guidance of a qualified teacher. And those who have actually experienced the rise of Kundalini within themselves, will hardly ever share that experience as a “how-to” guide for aam janata, since the experience could be vastly different for someone else, depending on many parameters, and is potentially dangerous to the person who tries it as DOI experiment.

So, “nothing is hitting the heart” does not mean one being vexed at not having a heart attack, but feeling disappointed at not experiencing something inward. That’s actually a very good feeling to have – especially for a seeker, since the journey along the spiritual path is always about self-realisation, i.e. the realisation of Truth that happens within oneself, as an intimate – and intense, needless to say – direct experience, within oneself.

Unfortunately, the questioner isn’t going to let us remain elated with this revelation for long and instantly deflates us by extending his reflection thus…

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Now, the second part of this reflection highlights some serious misunderstanding of the practical side of spirituality, which is putting the ancient methods and processes (shared by Gurus, of course) into actual practice, in real life situations. After all, Yoga, the ancient science of Life, isn’t just an austere practice to be done in isolation but is a way of living that needs to be applied in day-to-day living, by the practitioners. That’s why there is so much emphasis on sadhana (practice or performance of a spiritual process) in spirituality. In fact, nationwide missions like SkillIndia should take a cue from yoga, for the practical application part, in order to be really effective.

Inner voice cries hoarse: “digression… digression…”

fb_img_1531370637666Thoughts can potentially lead to actions, but not necessarily always. If one tries to translate each and every thought into action, simply surviving in this world itself would become harder than scaling Mt. Everest without oxygen, and sherpas. Thoughts simply keep flowing by themselves, like the waves of the ocean. Over time, one not only loses count of their number, but one also learns that it’s practically impossible to do something with each wave. There are waves that one can let kiss one’s bare feet and then there are those one could surf. Perhaps there are even some that may trigger enchanting poetry. The rest can only be observed. And they never cease to flow.

The questioner smartly chooses to follow only “good thoughts.” Hmmm… but how does one determine a thought is good or bad? It’s still just a thought anyway. Unless it is translated into an action, with a defined purpose, aimed at a specific outcome, it’s impossible to determine the value of any thought. Only when the outcome is experienced, its usefulness can be ascertained, based on the social situation that one is part of. Something that is useful / beneficial for an individual or society, in a harmless way, is deemed good. The opposite of that is branded as bad.

But good and bad are just classifications based on the subjective intellect of an individual or collective. They are mere perspectives and will vary from person to person, just like any other perspective. For terrorists, mass murder is just a means to an end, which makes them believe killing others is good. For the rest, murder is obviously bad and mass murderers are unadulterated evil, personified. While those who are murdered gladly excuse themselves from the pointless debates on their murder, the rest of the populace is always ready and willing to debate the good vs bad of murders and murderers to death, literally (on the multitude of channels that guarantee the proverbial “15 seconds of fame” for anyone who is willing to flex his/her vocal chords to express one’s opinion about anything, relevant or not).

img_0719.jpgIn reality there is no such thing as a ‘good thought’ or a ‘bad thought.’ Thoughts are, well, just thoughts. Everyone has got a boatload of them and some even admire themselves as being “Thought Leaders,” in practically every aspect of living. Irrespective of whether one fancies oneself as a leader or not, one can only translate one’s own thoughts into actions. And thoughts that translate into action are either useful or not. Neither can all useful things be deemed good (e.g. guns) nor can any useless thing be classified bad (e.g. floppy disk).

A Guru has no interest in either regulating someone’s thoughts or making someone follow his/her (the Guru’s) thoughts. And s/he doesn’t really care about the goodness of her/his thoughts, for a real Guru is fully aware of the utter futility of trying to interrupt or control the natural flow of thoughts. A Guru will actually be keen on enabling a seeker to understand that futility, experientially, by offering one or more sadhana (spiritual practice). So, it is obviously left to the individual – seeker or not – to observe one’s own thoughts and identify those that really need to be translated into action and act accordingly. The rest will mind their own business, within the mind itself!

Let’s look at that first sentence one last time, so we can move on to the rest of the question (parts 2 and 3 are waiting to be shared, impatiently)!

I read all the gurus, but nothing is hitting the heart and making me to follow the good thoughts.

Here’s the summary of insights that may help you, dear reader, to ignore most of the thoughts triggered while / after reading this and act upon only those that are valuable / useful.

  • Listening to what a Guru (Realised Master) shares is wonderful, because it is experiential wisdom
  • Knowing that a Guru’s teachings are meant for the spiritual heart and not the silly mind is great and will help the seeker focus inward
  • Thoughts simply flow by themselves, like the waves of the ocean, and they are neither good nor bad. They can be triggered by listening to a Guru as well
  • It’s practically not possible to follow all the thoughts that arise in the mind, which will only make anyone who attempts that go insane
  • One can pick and choose the thoughts and translate them into purposeful action for a specific outcome. The often over-hyped sixth-sense is meant for this purpose
  • A Guru is fully aware of the futility of following (any)one’s thoughts and hence will only encourage seekers to effectively utilise some of the thoughts for purposeful action, and enable them with practices (sadhana) for that purpose

You may take a well-deserved tea/coffee/juice break now. But just don’t start another series of waves, ummm… thoughts, by debating this with your break companion(s). Simply enjoy the beverage instead!

^There are a few multi-part blog posts that Swamy has started but yet to complete. Some on purpose and some for no reason. Or, may be it’s just procrastination! ha.. ha..

*BAUHumbug = “Business As Usual Humbug”, a term in Swamyctionary (which itself is another term coined by Swamy, supposed to mean ‘Swamy’s dictionary,’ i.e. collection of words coined by Swamy) that’s often used by him to depict the pretentious superficial survival focused existence of the species to which he too unfortunately belongs to!

… rest of the post will be shared in parts 2 & 3, as soon as at least 1 person cares to read this part and attempts to reflect upon it (thank goodness, that gives Swamy sufficient time to procrastinate :D)!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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The Idea of Belief!

30 May

Even after the greatest loss in life, would one still believe in God?

That was one of those rare profound questions (a lot of questions belong to the usual BAUHumbug “I’ll ask because I can” type) asked to Swamy on Quora. Here’s his response!

This is the fundamental conundrum in any kind of belief system, of which the most prominent is religion, which is built on the foundation known as God. Without the foundation, there can’t be a strong building, hence pretty much all Religions are heavily invested in the grand idea of an omnipotent and omnipresent entity called God. Of course, each of them have their own definition of God and are absolutely certain that only their version of God is authentic and the rest are heretic!

If one believes in God (or the source of creation – for those who are uncomfortable with the very idea of an almighty supreme being that’s Creator / Preserver / Transformer all rolled into one), faith in the divine has to be absolute, no matter what. Otherwise, it’s just a selective-belief, which is very subjective, varying from one situation to another, rooted in the binary existence (good/bad, right/wrong, superior/inferior, beaty/ugly, rich/poor, etc) of humans.

If a believer is like “I’ll believe when things work out well for me and I’ll be doubtful when things don’t work out the way I expected,” then there is really no need for any kind of belief at all. Which, in a tangential way, is actually liberating, because,

In the absence of belief, one will be true to oneself, holding oneself accountable for one’s own actions, instead of passing the buck to God.

Oh well, now we’ve inadvertently started treading on the spiritual path. And here’s what Spirituality (not to be confused with Religion) says about the Source of Creation aka Parabrahmam aka God/dess.

The source of creation is present in every single piece of creation, i.e. all beings in existence – including, but not limited to, humans. All creations are nothing but manifestations or manifest forms of the singular unmanifest energy. So, Creation / birth and Cremation / death are nothing but transformation of the same energy into different forms (Shout out to scientists – “you’re not in conflict with seekers”). And this manifestation happens incessantly, forever, until it ceases for good (known as MahAPraLayA aka Armageddon), and then starts all over again (Rudra’s roar aka the Big Bang). Those on the Spiritual path believe (pun intended) we’re in the 84th such cycle of creation, while those on the survival road are still trying hard to believe this single big bang itself!

In the grand – beyond the puny limited imagination of humans – scale of cosmos, creation or cremation of a single piece of creation, however famous or great that being may’ve been, is really an insignificant happening.

A flower bud on a plant blossoms, whithers and falls – without any complaints about the creator’s partiality.

A lion gets delivered in the forest, learns to walk and hunt, grows, hunts to feed, creates and nurtures cubs, ages and dies – without ever blaming a higher power for any of that.

A river originates from the mountain glacier, flows merrily with pure water down to the plains, gets used and abused by humans, and empties itself into the ocean – not for a moment pondering if its pure mountain joy or polluted plains suffering is because of God.

Every single piece of creation – animals, birds, critters, flora, fauna, land, mountain, ocean, valley, river, sun, moon, planets, galaxies, etc. etc. etc… – goes on, through the cycle of creation, many times over, without a belief system and without an iota of doubt, by experiencing “Life, the way it is!

Only a single species, in this vast still-expanding universe, known as humans, endowed with the rare ability to observe, contemplate and conclude, is simultaneously too proud of the superiority of its kind (as it wields destructive power over everything else on this – so far only inhabitable planet) and too silly to blame God for its woes, instead of marvelling at the intricate and complex process of colourful Life, happening all around, all the time and remaining grateful to be a part of this grand Creation.

In that context, loss in life is an independent event in an individual being’s insignificant existence. It’s just another event, in the self-preservation focused survival. This too shall pass. Irrespective of whether an individual recovers from grief soon or not, without waiting for that individual to renew her/his faith in the divine or not, ‘Life, the way it is,’ simply goes on… and on… and on… In other words, the dance of the divine (Dance of Shiva, if you will) keeps happening, without depending on any individual creation’s tune, while remaining in sync with all kinds of tunes in existence.

The Creator has everything to do with all of Creation, but nothing to do with any one creation’s self-created beliefs!

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

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